Important: Give yourself as much time as possible to apply for and obtain your visa. And see below for updates on which Visa Waiver Country nationals must now apply for a visa.
Traveling to the United States (US) involves additional advance planning. Please determine whether you will require a visa to enter the US and plan ahead. The following guidelines will assist you in obtaining a visa:
Official Invitation Letter
Please note: It is the sole responsibility of the attendee to obtain the necessary paperwork for entry to the US. This letter does not guarantee that you will be granted a visa, nor does it commit SPE to assist you in obtaining a visa. SPE will not pay any expenses incurred by you. We cannot send the letter to the embassy or consulate for you, nor can SPE contact the embassy or consulate on your behalf.
Applying for a Visa
Review visa wait times and then visit your local US embassy or consular office website where you will apply for your visa. There you can find out how to schedule an interview appointment, pay fees, and any other instructions.
Plan on an interview at the embassy or consulate, which is required for most visa applicants. As part of the visa interview, a quick fingerprint scan should be expected. Applicants who need additional screening are informed during the application process.
Prior to your scheduled interview date, you can complete the visa application online.
Visa Waiver Program
For those traveling to the US without a visa from the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries, an electronic passport (e-Passport) is required. Learn which countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
Travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):
- Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia or Yemen on or after 1 March 2011 (with limited travel exceptions for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
- Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Sudan or Syria.
ESTA is Required
The Department of Homeland Security is now enforcing compliance of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) requirement for VWP travelers. A valid ESTA approval is required for all VWP travelers who are entering the United States by air or sea.
Authorization via ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the United States. US Customs and Border Protection officers determine admissibility upon travelers’ arrival. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, though it is recommended that travelers apply as soon as they begin preparing travel plans or prior to purchasing airline tickets.
Global Entry Trusted Traveler Network Members are encouraged to proceed and use a Global Entry kiosk on their arrival into the US.
All passengers eligible to apply for the US CBP Global Entry Trusted Traveler Network Program are highly encouraged to do so.
US citizens, US lawful permanent residents, and citizens of select countries are eligible for Global Entry membership. Find out which countries are eligible.
Additional Tips for Your Flight and Arrival
Please check if your departure airport is one of 10 international airports where electronic devices larger than a smartphone will not be allowed as a carry-on item into the US. See which airports are affected. These devices must be placed in a checked bag.
Please note that the aforementioned information is a general guideline for travel to the US. Because travel requirements may change, SPE recommends that attendees contact their local embassy to ensure they have proper documentation.